by Cherise Seucharan
Many people are unaware of the often invisible barriers that contribute to making Toronto less accessible. In many ways, accessibility is a “lens in which to view the city”, highlighting how issues within our policies and programs impact marginalized groups. Ask if your candidates are knowledgeable about these key accessibility issues, so that they can help to make much-needed improvements that can benefit everyone.
How will you support continued accessibility improvements to the TTC?
With the new accessible streetcars rolling out slowly over the next few years, Toronto is set to significantly increase the overall accessibility of its transit system. However, improvements to other transit programs are needed for the system to be fully accessible. The Wheel-Trans system, which is a door to door transit service for those who can’t use the TTC, is in need of a budget overhaul and more vehicles to accommodate the growing numbers of people who depend on the service. Additionally, the TTC’s commitment to making all stations accessible has been pushed back until 2025, several years after it was originally promised. Ask your council candidates if they will support continued improvements to TTC accessibility.
Do you support reduced TTC fares for the disabled?
The TTC and the Advisory Committee on Accessible Transit (ACAT) have been debating the implementation of reduced TTC fares for those who receive Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) or Ontario Works funding, or those who use Wheel-Trans. However, since 201,3 the discussion on this issue has not moved forward. Other Canadian cities like Ottawa, Vancouver and Calgary already have reduced fares in place for the disabled. Ask if your candidates will add Toronto to that list.
Do you have a plan to increase accessibility before the 2015 Pan Am and ParaPan Am Games?
Millions of dollars have been invested in Toronto in preparation for the Pan Am /Para Pan Am Games. Accessibility will be essential for those coming from around the world to attend this inclusive event. However, despite the prominence of the ParaPan Am portion of the event, there has been little discussion on how to accommodate athletes and fans with disabilities. The AODA Alliance argues that the Games should help Toronto build an “accessibility legacy” with improvements to accessible tourist attractions and investment into accessible athletic programs.
Will you support improvements and funding for the TCHC?
Finding affordable and accessible housing is another major challenge that people with disabilities face. Working with the Responsible Personal Accessibility in Toronto Housing (R-Path) committee, the TCHC supports those in need of accessible housing. However, as we have already covered in this series, the organization is in dire need of improvement. Ask if your candidate will fight for better TCHC funding and management, particularly for those with disabilities.